You are here:   Cambria > Townships > Chest Twp.

Hosted by:  Lynne Canterbury

 Chest Twp. Cemeteries
 
Fairview Cemetery
M. E. Cemetery
St. Lawrence Cemetery
SS Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Cemetery
Thomas Mennonite Cemetery

 Chest Communities
 
St. Lawrence
Thomas Mill

 Other Chest Links
 
USGS Map of Chest Township

Long before white men settled in the area that is now Chest Township, Indians of the Delaware tribes stalked game through its mountains and valleys in their never-ceasing battle for survival.

By 1794, an extensive tract of land in the area had been acquired by General McConnell, a Philadelphian who had helped lead Americans to victory in the Revolution.  It was not until 1818 that Ruth McConnell, widow of the general's son, occupied the family estate.  On an elevated spot commanding a grand view of the surrounding countryside, she built a magnificant mansion.  Glen Connell was the name she gave to her home, which was on the road to Carrolltown.  Only ruins of the mansion now exist.

Gradually more settlers arrived in the area through Burgoon's Gap.  At first, religious services were held by the predominantly Catholic people in private homes.  In the late 1840's, it was decided that the 35 families around Glen Connell, though poor in worldly possessions, should have a church in which to worship.  Through five laborious winters, men of the families devoted many hours to hewing logs and hauling stone for its construction.  At last, in 1853, it was dedicated in honor of St. Lawrence the Martyr, which apparently accounts for the change of name of the township's only community from Glen Connell to St. Lawrence.

Also in 1853, Chest Township officially came into existence as a political subdivision of the county.  Formed from portions of Susquehanna and White Townships, it was incorporated December 10.  It is bounded on the north by the Clearfield County line, and is situated between Hastings and White Township.

The township had a population of 527 by 1890 and St. Lawrence at that time had only 53 people.  Population of the township has slowly decreased through the years, standing at 374 in the 1950 census.

The first tavern, so called but more nearly an inn in function, in the township was kept by Matthias Dietrich, and another was opened in St. Lawrence in the 1860's by Adam Leiden.  Chest Township from the beginning has been a farming area.  Aside from the main agricultural products of potatoes and apples, there is a small dairy, a turkey farm, and a tree nursery.  One coal mine, the Claymines, employing about 30 people, is now in operation, and strip mines have removed some coal in the past.  Also, considerable lumber has been produced by the heavily wooded hills.

St. Lawrence today has a fine new elementary school, a brick church completed in 1911 and a post office.

Page Created: 10 Sep 2003.
Last Updated: 27 Aug 2015
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Lynne Canterbury & Diann Olsen, & contributors.